KNOWING GOD IN HIS GLORY
The Sin God Hates
Jerry A. Collins
¨ What is an idol in our lives today?
¨ How do we make idols in our lives?
¨ What is God’s reaction toward idolatry?
While living our lives, we must purge ourselves of the sin of asserting our independence from God. We have struggled with this sin since the garden of Eden where man declared his independence from God. The antidote for mans thirst for autonomy was pain and opposition. The reason for this was to create an environment, pain and opposition, that detracts us from our natural inclination to pursue autonomy, independence from God. Pain and opposition in life is used by God to teach us not to trust ourselves but to derive our peace and confidence from the character of God. You cannot have confidence in God until you renounce all confidence in yourself. So God brings to you the threat of danger all of your life else you would cease being dependent. God also challenges our maturity in Christ when we have to apply the Bible to our lives. What does loving God with all my heart, soul, mind and strength look like as I go to work each day? How do I exemplify a love for God and others in the heat of a contract negotiation? Determining to apply this truth where I live forces me into a posture of dependence upon God which is right where He wants us to be. From the garden then we see that the path from God is independence, the path to God is dependence. We still struggle with this today.
Ezekiel had repeatedly stated that the coming judgment was prompted by the peoples sins. But what had the people of Jerusalem done to deserve such punishment? They had failed to depend upon God. They had asserted their own independence from God by creating idols they depended upon. So God took Ezekiel back to Jerusalem in a vision to show him and the exiles the wickedness there in the land of Israel.
1. OUR IDOLATRY PROVOKES GODS JEALOUSY AND SUSPENDS HIS ACTIVITY IN OUR LIVES 8:1-6
In chps 8-9 we have 2 visions of judgment. In chp 8 the vision is of the abominations in the Temple of Jerusalem. In vss 1-3 Ezekiel still limited in his ministry has the elders of the community to his house vs 1. Then he sees a figure like that of a man as in chp 1 and is carried away in spirit to Jerusalem landing at the entrance of the north gate of the inner court of Jerusalem. Twice God mentions the idol of jealousy vss 4-5 that provokes His jealousy. Finally God says that this presence will take God far from the Temple. God will not share His glory with an idol, an inferior and if the idol inhabited the temple, God would leave. This idol violated the second of the ten commandments (Ex 20:4).
All we have we received as a gift from God. When we boast as though we earned it or someone else provided it for us, we deprive God of His glory and provoke His jealousy. The key to avoiding creating idols in our lives is gratitude. First, gratitude must be directed to a source outside of ourselves. We cannot be grateful to ourselves and biblically call it gratitude. God instead calls it pride and that destroys any gratitude I might have with God. Second, dependence does not guarantee gratitude but is essential to it whether the object of your dependence is God your spouse, employer or benefactor. Gratitude is an expression of your dependence upon God. Third, when your gratitude is to a source other than God, like the idolatry in Israel, it is simply a matter of time before you cease being grateful. You may be tempted to believe you deserved their generosity or that there may be ulterior motives after a while. When you feel grateful to others you tend to seek reasons why they were generous. However, understanding your unworthiness and that ‘every gift comes from above’ helps you to be grateful for you cannot have a relationship with God and think that you earned it! This attitude will ensure God’s continued activity in your life instead of provoking His jealousy and inactivity!
2. IDOLATRY EMERGES FROM A HEART THAT BELIEVES GOD IS NO LONGER IN CONTROL OR HAS MY BEST INTERESTS AT HEART 8:7-18
First, notice the idols: (1) all kinds of crawling things, detestable animals and all idols of Israel vs 10. (2) Tammuz vs 14 possibly a vegetation deity dying in the heat of summer and rising again in the spring with new life. (3) Sun worship vs 16 their backs turned on God. Second, notice the worshippers: (1) 70 elders of Israel representing leading men of the city. (2) Jaazaniah specifically mentioned among these men whose family had been faithful to the Lord and his presence surprising Ezekiel because of this. (3) Women weeping, so passionate about their idol vs 14 possibly because of the death cycle preceding his new life in spring. (4) 25 men between the porch and altar probably priests who should have been acting as mediators in temple sacrifices but were themselves bowing to the sun with their backs to God. (5) People filled land with violence since the sin had passed from the leadership, thru the religion into the society. The practice of idolatry had infiltrated every part of society in Jerusalem. Civil, religious and personal.
God insists on our looking to Him alone for the meeting of our needs. We covet when we seek to meet our own needs or look to any other person than God for the meeting of our needs. When we covet we commit idolatry. God may use others to meet your needs. He probably will. My wife and children meet my needs in a wonderful way but this is different from saying that I look to my family for the meeting of my needs. So also in all of my relationships in life. Through the ministry of Wycliffe a tribe of Indians who worshipped god-pots was discovered. When the chief was asked what happened when the god-pot did not answer prayer. He said we break the god-pot and make a new one. When we hope in anyone other than God, we are making and worshipping god-pots living as idolaters. We see this in the history of Israel. When they could not persuade God to do what they wanted they forsook God for pagan ones. Even offering their children hoping the intensity of their desire would persuade the gods to relent. The solution of course is surrender to the God of providence. God controls all affairs of life and the intensity of your desires will not persuade Him to relinquish that control. If you do not believe that what He wants for your life is better than what you want for your life, you probably will sacrifice your family, not in a fire, but in a desperate attempt to have your own way.
3. IDOLATRY CANNOT ESCAPE JUDGMENT CHAPTER 9
In this vision God raises up executioners, most likely angels to destroy all but the ones with a mark vs 4 who remained faithful. Just like God will mark 144000 during the tribulation (Rev 7). God has no pity since ample time to repent but the people had instead used the time to become more perverse. They would not be spared but forced God to enact the curses of His covenant with them and remove His presence. Having seen the hand of God throughout their history they had no excuse for worshipping other gods. Changing the worship of the true God for gods that are no gods gave them the autonomy they craved. Only those that acknowledge one true God talk about idolatry. In polytheism idolatry is an oxymoron for only those who believe in one God object to the existence of others. If believing in existence of more than one god idolatry cannot exist merely worshipping your choice from many. Existence of one God who calls people to obey His laws ensures accountability something that all people seek to avoid. Those who believe that idolatry exists also testify that judgment cannot be escaped!